Perth’s DeadWeight crew have just announced their “retirement” after bringing five years of quality underground bass parties to the people of their city. They had their second-last party at their home venue Flyrite and are set to farewell Perth on 10 April 2015.
The last couple of years in Melbourne have seen the demise of Heavy Innit! and Wobble, who brought years of international acts like Loefah, Caspa, Noisia and probably the bulk of buzz names from the UK bass scene. We at Haarp Media (in partnership with bass music producer Warpa!nt) tried our hand at showcasing UK bass act Thelem in Melbourne. We stopped after doing just one event of this kind.
So what stops us from doing events? There’s a few reasons to be named. There’s money and venues for one thing.
There also seems to be limited interest in dubstep now. When observed from the less buzzy standpoint, actual dubstep (as in not Skrillex and electro-oriented step) always did have a limited audience. Older niche genres have become dated and superceded. Many original UK dubstep artists now focus on bringing their bass aesthetic through different hybrids like juke, garage, house and drum and bass. Perhaps there’s a niche to be filled there. If you’re interested in doing this, you’ll need support from players in other cities to split international costs.
And it’s called underground music for a reason, it’s lesser known and limited because it’s more about form and art rather than garnering audience. That means promoters often run a loss to cover the expensive internationals, especially now the US dollar and pound are rising over the Aussie dollar. Limited turn-out and associative problems often burn out promoters too early, Many OG promoters are too old for this shit now. All people seem to want to turn up to are the buzzy sort of popular kid crews and for internationals.
What does this mean for fans of underground electronica?
Well, in Melbourne we’re still powering. Drum and bass is going strong with crews like Twisted Audio and Broken Beat Assault still in the game (who just had two monster parties last night featuring LTJ Bukem and Teebee respectively). The Operatives continue to break ground with their fusion of future beats and bass music. Techno/house events are led by Darkbeat, Funf and Novel.
Smaller crews like Onepuf, Prognosis and Oscillate are breaking ground with loyal audiences with unique approaches and contemporary sounds. City psytrance sounds are being championed by Kinematic Records, Foolproof and Mithya events. More experimental festivals like Square Sounds show that having a fresh idea is still important. Sound system crews like Heartical Hi-Fi are wobbling some fixtures out of place somewhere.
Electronic music has always been the same, and you can nest every single genre back into one of five catagories. Techno/House, Drum and Bass, Hip-hop, experimental/live and Reggae/dub. Everything else is a variant or hybrid of these forms (yes, even psytrance comes back to techno/house variant), and nothing will change in this respect.
Perhaps you disagree with our catagorisation? Please fill us in. Also if we’ve missed out on what you’re doing as a crew, we’d love to hear from you. We extend the invitation to Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide and any other Australian town to tell us what’s up in your burb.
In summary, crews come, crews go. Underground parties, ideals and art are always around despite obstacles. Too many chiefs, not enough Indians also springs to mind when thinking of our current picture too.